In what can be considered as a final attempt to derail the government before Donald Trump became president, Barack Obama approved the release of over $200 million to the Palestinian Authority. The move was considered as a defiance of Congress and the GOP’s decision to hold the funds.
On Jan. 20, hours before Trump’s inauguration, the Obama administration notified Congress regarding the allocation of the funds, which amount to $221 million. The money came from the U.S. Agency for International Development and was meant to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank.
The Obama administration had been wanting to release the funds for years now but this move was blocked by Republican lawmakers Kay Granger of Texas and Ed Royce of California. Both are the current respective chairmen of the House Appropriations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Royce and Granger, along with other members of Congress, decided to hold the funds due to Palestine’s intent on forging memberships with other international bodies.
However, hours before stepping down, Obama undermined Congress and the incoming administration by releasing the money to Palestine. Aside from going against the majority decision, the move could further complicate the ties between the U.S. and Israel under Trump’s leadership. The relationship between the governments of these two countries was shaken last month after Obama’s administration decided not to veto the resolution on Israel’s settlements, allowing the U.N. Security Council to consider them as illegal.
Currently, the president is busy mending the relationship with Israel by promising to move the U.S. Embassy in the country to Jerusalem. However, by providing substantial financial assistance to Palestine, a country that has been in dispute with Israel for some time now, Obama has affected the U.S.’ chance of improving its relationship with its most stable ally in the Middle East.